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Theater takes on the challenge of Roidis’s controversial “Popess Joan” March 17, 2008

Posted by grhomeboy in Stage & Theater.
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Director Sotiris Hatzakis and art director Lydia Koniordou have opted to use puristic version > Emmanuel Roidis’s condemning language of 150 years ago remains contemporary,’ says director Sotiris Hatzakis. Performances of his theatrical adaptation begin March 21 at Patras’s Apollon Theater.

A century-and-a-half has elapsed since Emmanuel Roidis shocked the Nation and was excommunicated by the Greek Orthodox Church for his novel “I Papissa Ioanna”  [Popess Joan]. Even today, this legendary work continues to provoke, not so much as a scandalous literary outing but as a work that is extremely daring, disrespectful, biting and venomous. Its appeal is ongoing because this is a well-structured, imaginative and surprise-laden novel delivered in the writer’s typically scintillating and ironic style. The question is whether all these elements can be transfered to the stage. It is only natural to respond reservedly to a theater’s decision to stage Roidis’s “Popess Joan”. The concern is accentuated further by past attempts, such as those by Giorgos Roussos and Gerasimos Stavros, where the only aspect preserved was the plot. Now, Roidis’s old classic is being prepared for a staging by the Regional Municipal Theater of Patras, presently under the artistic direction of esteemed actress Lydia Koniordou. Performances, at the city’s Apollon Theater, begin on March 21. The production, Sotiris Hatzakis, will then be brought to Athens in May before returning to its base for performances around the region’s Achaia prefecture.

Initially, Hatzakis had intended to stage a theatrical adaptation of novelist Pavlos Matesis’s “Mitera tou Skylou” [Dog’s Mother] but that plan fell through and he subsequently proposed staging the Roidis classic, a work he had contemplated for a while, “because of its history and language,” in the director’s words.

“The play tells the story of an orphan girl who wanders through medieval gloom and learns about the art of survival. She is surrounded by violence and hypocrisy, but is armed with intelligence and power of reasoning, which help her adapt to the conditions and measure up to others. To survive, she resorts to transvestism by donning a male monk’s cassock and playing the role,” commented Hatzakis. “As a monk, she rises through the Catholic church’s hierarchy. She undergoes changes and the hot-blooded girl of the outdoor life and erotic and pagan stories is transformed into an icy traveler. When she is finally declared Pope, the little that remains of her moral values begins to be totally demolished. The moment she conquers the very top and calms down, the subsequent boredom she feels awakens her womb, which had hibernated for years … she gets wrapped up amid a flowering of feelings and ends up pregnant. And that is the beginning of her end.”

Considering the novel’s language, didn’t the director have second thoughts when thinking about taking this work to the stage?

“Yes, and they were even greater than the ones I felt when I thought about doing Alexandros Papadiamantis’s ‘The Murderess’, which we did with Lydia Koniordou. Because, here, apart from various other things, we have to deal with a relentless take on puristic Greek that is rigid and untouched, without the looser moments of Papadiamantis’s fused language,” said Hatzakis. “Here, we have a writer who is phlegmatic, possesses high-quality irony, and launches an attack on the Catholic Church in a cold-blooded fashion – all this through his use of language.”

In preserving Roidis’s old-school puristic Greek language, the director, responding to a question, said he was not worried about modern-day audiences having problems understanding the play.

“I’m not afraid of this at all. Of course, there were some concerns at first, as had also been the case with ‘The Murderess’, which ended up being groundless,” remarked Hatzakis, who added that when taking on such a project one should not be driven to concerns about whether it will be “understood by the people … It should be more a case of ‘let’s see how the public will react. It’s an opportunity to see how such a venture will work out. With this venture, I’m taking a stand against the recent trend to translate works into the vernacular.”

Asked whether it was possible to transfer the irony of Roidis’s language onto the stage, Hatzakis admitted that this proved to be a real challenge, and one that remains untested.

“We’ve taken a leap and only the end result will tell us if we’ve been successful. However, we have been having a great time at rehearsals, discovering a forward-looking text that was as controversial as could be during its time, and which still stirs waters today. Because when the break with power is truly revolutionary and relentless, it condemns its structure and abuse in a timeless fashion.”

The Carnival of Patras March 8, 2008

Posted by grhomeboy in Arts Events Greece, Greek Culture, Greek Culture Heritage, Special Features.
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Albeit not as renowned as certain other Mediterranean and central European carnivals, Patras’s carnival is amongst Europe’s finest. Together with that of Nottingham, in London, it is the largest in terms of active participation (40.000 masqueraders in the Great Parade) and, without doubt, the first in participation of young people and therefore leading in enthusiasm and passion.

The Carnival started approximately 180 years ago and has since exhibited a historically interesting course and development. It all began in 1829, with masquerade balls thrown in the residences of the locals bourgeois. At some point, from 1870 onwards, the bourgeois also finances the construction of carnival floats and the parade comes into being. For many decades, the balls and parade constitute the official carnival of Patras and are the basis of its fame outside the city’s limits.

In its fringe, of course, there is a popular version, with parties in taverns or private residences and the mpoules (an improvised masquerade, usually with the help of clothing belonging to the opposite sex, one’s grandmother ect). The floats and masquerades are constructed by popular artisans, a fact reflecting on their style. The Carnival however, remains a bourgeois festival as the tone is set by flamboyant balls and the organization and financing of the parade and floats. And, with the exception of the mpoules, the bourgeois is behind its few but representative customs – the waxed egg war, the chocolate-war and the balls of the “bourboulia”.

This carnival, indeed, is purely of Italian origin and is completely unrelated to the pagan carnival customs of the rest of the country, whose roots are lost in time, dating back to the ancient god Dionysus, and whose phallic symbols and wantonness in disguise and song constitute the rural rituals for springtime fertility and the productivity of land and flock.

Its western character is enforced by the fact that apart from the de facto cosmopolitan composition of the local bourgeois (Greeks from the colonies, together with English, Germans and others as local representatives or businessmen themselves in the raisin commerce) popular participation in the carnival is represented mostly by the city’s large Italian community (political fugitives from their country) and by the islanders from the Ionian Islands who have settled in Patras in search of work.

At times more robust or less inspired – in proportion to concurrent political and financial situation, the Patras Carnival, with its Italian, bourgeois and “prim and proper” features, marched on until 1940. In the period between 1940 and 1950 the carnival was not celebrated because of the war, the enemy occupation and the Civil War that ensued in Greece after liberation from the Nazis. It will resume from 1951 with one modification: from now on the organizer shall be the Municipality of Patras.

The greatest subversion, however, came from within, and indirectly reflected the social changes in the young generation’s rights and perceptions after 1968, albeit superficially resulting from two coincidental events. In 1966 a game was tried, in the context of the carnival: a treasure hunt for the crews of the carnival float cars. 94 people participate, and numbers will gradually rise within the following years, as the ownership of a car, as a condition for participation is abandoned. (Amongst these 94 we find the presenter Alkis Steas, who from the following year until .. contributed greatly to the treasure hunt and the carnival of Patras in general).

In 1981 the Municipality’s failure, due to financial difficulties, in producing an adequate number of carnival floats for the Great Parade lead, as a compulsory solution, to the participation of carnival groups. That was it. The participation of young people in the treasure hunt groups rises rapidly and when, after 1987, the organizing Municipality fully accepts and encourages the fact, the rise in participation is effectuated by geometric progression. The Patras carnival becomes a matter of youth; it evolves into a public festival of the people of Patras and thus experiences a wild development in all parameters.

Related Links > http://www.carnivalpatras.gr/index.php?section=7

It’s Carnival time all over Greece March 7, 2008

Posted by grhomeboy in Greek Culture, Greek Culture Heritage, Special Features.
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The Germans, the Venetians and the people of Rio de Janeiro are renowned celebrators at Carnival time, but Greeks also have a deep-rooted Carnival tradition.

The Greek word for Carnival is Apokria. This is derived from apokreos, which in turn means abstaining from meat, because Carnival is followed by a period of fasting. The Carnival period, or Triodio, begins three weeks before Clean Monday. In these three weeks, you really must make the most of all the celebrations, because for the following 40 days of fasting leading up to Easter, going by the Julian calendar, the Orthodox Church allows no festivities. The first and second Sundays are Meat Sundays (Kreofagou), and the third Sunday is Cheese Sunday (Tirofagou). The main focus of the Carnival celebrations starts on the Thursday (Tsiknopempti in Greek) before Sunday – Kiriaki tis Apokrias.

In the north, people don goatskins and bells and go from house to house, wishing everyone a prosperous year and successful harvest. But the real celebrations take place in the Peloponnese region. In Patras, they celebrate the legendary “white ball”. All the principles of a centuries-old Orthodox tradition seem to be suddenly forgotten. Everyone, even the women, feel free to make fools of themselves. Clad from top to toe in black, groups of women walk through the streets, flirting with every man they like the look of, and dreaming of liberty and equality. The Patras Carnival celebration lasts four weeks and ends on Clean Monday. This is followed by a period of inner and outer purification. Another equally attractive custom practised throughout the country on Clean Monday is kite flying.

07-03-08_carnival_dancers.jpg  Dancers from the Aegean island of Skyros perform the ‘Struggle of the Yeri’ in central Athens streets

Skyros, an island in the Sporades, is famous throughout Greece for its Carnival celebrations. These go back to the story of a herdsman who lost his entire flock in a snowstorm. Beside himself with grief, the yeros (old man) took the skins from his animals, hung their bells about his body and returned to the village. Ever since the men of the island have dressed up in skins, bells, and masks once a year in his memory to perform the “Struggle of the Yeri”. According to how the clothes are worn, the yeros is a herdsman from the waist down and a goat from the waist up. On Clean Monday, the islanders gather in the streets, dance, roar and fight with each other, ringing their bells, which weigh up to 88 pounds (40 kilograms).

Carnival celebrations in Moschato March 3, 2008

Posted by grhomeboy in Greek Culture, Greek Culture Heritage.
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03-03-08_carnival.jpg  A performer breathes fire as fireworks go off as part of the Carnival celebrations in Moschato, southern Athens, yesterday.

Thousands of adults and children wearing fancy-dress costumes joined parades around Athens and other Greek cities yesterday to mark the penultimate Sunday of the Carnival season. Moschato holds Athens’s biggest parade but the main attraction of the festivities is the parade in Patras, which will be held next Sunday to mark the end of the Carnival season.

This Week in Greece > conferences and shows November 12, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Shows & Conferences.
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Monday >

The Hellenic Management Association (EEDE) and the Economic Chamber of Greece host a conference on «Modern Leadership & Development of Human Resources» starting at 6.30 p.m. at the Pancretan Cooperative Bank, 5 Ikarou Street, Iraklion, Crete. For information call 2810 263351.

The Greek Bank Association is hosting an exhibition titled «Consumer Loans – Cards» at the Athens Syntagma metro station. The exhibition will be open to the public from 2 to 9 p.m. on Monday and from 8 to 9 p.m. Tuesday-Thursday. For details visit > www.hba.gr.

The seventh Bank Management Conference on «Transformation for Innovation, Shaping Next Practices» begins at the Athinaida Conference Center, Athens. For information call 210 6617777 or visit > www.bankmanagement.gr.

Tuesday >

The Express Kalofolias Group hosts the first Ecofinance Forum, starting at 9.30 a.m. at Zappeion’s Aigli Conference Centre, Athens. Development Minister Christos Folias will make the opening address. For details call 210 6172809.

The Hellenic Migration Policy Institute (IMEPO) and the British Council host an exhibition titled «City Streets» opening at 8 p.m. at the Evnardou Megaron, 20 Aghiou Constantinou Street, Athens. For information call 210 2711721.

Wednesday >

The Greek-American Chamber of Commerce and the Greek Association of Branded Products Manufacturers (ESVEP) host a conference on «Branding: Branded Goods, Adding Value for the Consumer» starting at 4 p.m. at the Ethniki Insurance Conference Center, 101-103 Syngrou Avenue, Athens. Development Minister Christos Folias will speak. For information call 210 6993559 or visit > www.amcham.gr.

The Technical Chamber of Greece hosts a conference on «The Protection of Natural Sources» starting at 6.30 p.m. at National Bank of Greece’s Theodoros Karatzas Amphitheater, Athens. For information call 210 3291252-4 or visit > www.tee.gr.

The German Embassy in Athens and Athens International Airport present the exhibition «Renewables in Germany» strarting at 11 a.m. at the Athens Airport. The exhibition will run through November 25. For information call 210 7285222.

Thursday >

The Educational Research Center and the Education Ministry host a conference titled «The Quality of Educational Work: System & Interventions» at 10 a.m. at the Divani Caravel Hotel, Athens. To Friday. For information call 210 3312406 or visit > www.kee.gr.

The Greek Logistics Association hosts the 11th «Logistics» congress, starting at 9 a.m. at Zappeion Hall, Athens. To Friday. For information call 210 3216014 or visit > www.eel.gr.

The IDC Business Intelligence conference 2007 begins at 9 a.m. at the Ledra Marriott Hotel, Athens. For details visit > www.idc-cema.com.

The Greek-Swedish Chamber of Commerce hosts a conference titled «The Athens Stock Exchange: Development, Modernization and Globalization. The Challenges of the Next Day» at 7.30 p.m. at the Ledra Marriott Hotel, Athens. The head of the Athens bourse, Spyros Kapralos, will be the keynote speaker. For information call 210 6084399 or visit > www.hellenic-swedishcc.gr.

Friday >

The University of Patras hosts the fifth Diabetes Congress, titled «Diabetes: Past-Present-Future» at 3 p.m. on its Campus in Patras. To Sunday. For details visit > www.upatras.gr.

The eighth aluminium congress, titled «Aluminium, Constructions and Products» opens at the Creta Maris – Terra Maris Hotel in Iraklion, Crete. To Sunday. For details visit > www.alunet.gr.

The seventh sales congress, titled «Conditions and Changes in the Greek Market» begins at 9 a.m. at the Goulandris Museum in Kifissia, Athens. For information call 210 6202083 or visit > www.bthere.gr.

World Rhythmic Gymnastics Championships ended today in Patras September 23, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Athletics.
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World Rhythmic Gymnastics Championships ended today in Patras, Greece > Russia wins team all-around, takes 6th gold at rhythmic gymnastics worlds

Defending champion Russia won the team all-around event Saturday for its sixth gold medal in the World Rhythmic Gymnastics Championships. Margarita Aliychuk, Anna Gavrilenko, Tatiana Gorbunova, Elena Posevina, Daria Shkurikhina and Natalia Zueva scored a total 35.100 points in the exercises, 17.650 in the five ropes routine and 17.450 in the three hoops and two clubs events.

Italy won the silver with 34.250 points, while Belarus was third with 33.800, repeating the podium positions from the worlds in Baku, Azerbaijan, two years ago. The eight top-scoring teams in each exercise will compete in the group apparatus finals on Sunday, the championships’ closing day.

The 10 best teams qualify for the Beijing Olympics next year, while the International Gymnastics Federation allocated a further two wildcards to Brazil and Greece.

Related Links > http://www.rgworld-patras2007.gr/contents/index_en/index.html